Business Majors/MBA admissions


Hello Dr. de Beauchamp,
Thank you taking time to help people like me! Since you teach MBA students I imagine you have a clear understanding of what it takes to be one.

I decided to apply to several MBA programs in Round 2, which means my applications will be due in early January 2014. This decision came about because I am in a career rut. The industry I work in is insular and many of the skills I have learned in my current job are not transferable to other industries.

I have been wanting to go to business school for the last three years, but several significant aspects of my profile have held me back until now: I have been a grocery store cashier for the last four years, I have an abysmal undergraduate GPA and no formal leadership experience. I have talked with admissions reps from Darden, Ross, Duke, Stern, BGI and Fuqua during my search. Without exception they were all VERY optimistic and reassured me that the issues I just mentioned were surrmountable.

Earlier this week I had an experience that made me re-evaluate my decision. I told one of my customers in the checkout line that I was applying to business school. He told me he was also! He is a professional snowboarder and VP of Marketing at his company. After our conversation I felt disheartened. How could I possibly get into a top program with my humble background if that is the type of competition I will be facing? I have heaps of enthusiasm, but no proof of solid business skills. I also question whether the adcom would view me as someone who would make a significant contribution to the class.

Here is what I am doing to prepare and I am hoping you can comment on whether you feel it is sufficient:
1. Completing 200-level course in financial accounting. Is this rigorous enough? Does the delivery method (face-to-face, online, etc.) matter?
2. Sitting for GMAT. When is a prep course justified vs. self-study? Is there an unspoken minimum score in your opinion? Is the GRE worth considering?
3. Volunteering one day a week. Specifics TBD, I am looking for an organization that will let me plan an event for them. Any thoughts on what sort of organization I should volunteer with? I completed a one year 350-hour Americorps volunteer program while I was an undergrad as well as three internships. My most recent volunteer experience ran from September 2009 - May 2010 and I took people on kayak tours.
4. Meeting one-on-one to chat with Directors from my company and attending networking events with them where possible (I've been invited to one tomorrow! Woohoo!).
5. Meeting with any acquaintance or connection who is more well-versed in business than I am and picking their brain.

I could mention more...

This question has gotten rather long so I will stop now. Thanks in advance for your help. If you know of any useful resources I would be thrilled if you shared them with me.

Also, what do you think is the maximum number of schools a person should apply to at the same time?

Looking forward to your response!

You are heading in the correct direction. Work on your career networking first. Many employers have reimbursement programs for graduate work, at least the employers that value their human resources. Work towards employers and industries that provide for this.

I would not count on the universities and colleges to provide you a clear channel to work. Their revenues are clearly not coming from getting you a job, and only to have you pay for tuition. As a former executive recruiter, I believe it is more important to have the experience and work upwards in a company first, and then obtain an advanced degree in the company.
Leverage your situation currently. Albertsons and Safeway have current programs for tracks to advance degrees, and so does Krogerís. The food business still needs executives in high levels, and this is an esstential services area. I would not shift to thin non-primary areas of the economy such as snow-boarding.

I have not found that the better name of the school gets you better employment, but the job tracking and networking does. You might consider Kaplan, ITT Tech, and Phoenix University; since as universities for profit, they must display the percentages of hiring after the degree is awarded. These schools for profit have been used by many employers.

I do like the way you are thinking and glad you checked in here. Keep that networking up, and possibly shifting in your area to a bigger company as mentioned that needs upper management. Albertsons has been known to treat their employees very well in compensation and advancement.  

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Dr. Joseph de Beauchamp


I`ve been teaching MBA students around the world for the past 15 years. I have covered over 50 stock markets and published on over 2000 public companies. I review and check on nearly 6000 financial reports a year. I would be glad to help out with questions.


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2000 public companies

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